Russell Westbrook says he’s going to keep his head down and ‘focus on competing’ amid trade rumors

Jonathan Sherman
4 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook logged his first minutes of the 2022-23 NBA preseason on Monday night, finishing with five points, two rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes of playing time against the Sacramento Kings.

While it was certainly nice for him to get on the floor on Monday, there is no way to avoid the fact that rumors have been swirling regarding his uncertain future in L.A.

“Vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka, owner Jeanie Buss and senior basketball adviser Kurt Rambis seriously considered sending Westbrook and unprotected first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to the [Indiana] Pacers for center Myles Turner and guard Buddy Hield, sources said,” wrote Shams Charania, Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. “They held a series of meetings in the days leading up to camp to analyze the possible Pacers deal from every angle, with the views of Ham and Lakers executives Joey and Jesse Buss also being strongly considered in the process. The organization even delayed the midweek news conference for Pelinka and Ham as the debate continued.”

For the entire summer, the Lakers have been rumored to be trying to deal Westbrook via trade. Despite that, Westbrook made it clear that he is only focusing on what he can control at the moment.

“I’m super blessed and thankful for what I have and what I’ve been given,” Westbrook told the Los Angeles Times following Monday’s preseason opener. “I’ve got an unbelievable support system, family, leaning on my faith. Everything else will take care of itself. So, all summer, my whole life, I’ve been hearing the stories about myself. That’s not going to change today. So, nothing new for me. I’m going to continue to keep my head down, focus on competing. And everything else will take care of itself.”

Westbrook joined the Lakers back in 2021 after the team acquired him from the Washington Wizards. When the trade was made, the Lakers were seen as serious title contenders thanks to the trio of Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

However, that did not end up being the case. Davis and James dealt with injury issues throughout last season, and Westbrook never seemed comfortable on the floor.

He had a decent season statistically, but his numbers were nowhere near what fans have grown accustomed to through the years. The former MVP averaged 18.5 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game.

His sense of comfort within the rotation as well as how he contributes to winning will be looked at by Lakers fans and NBA experts all season long.

With all that in mind, it is absolutely possible that the Lakers ultimately decide to deal Westbrook in a trade. If a trade does end up being made, the Lakers will likely have to part ways with one or two first-round picks to sweeten the pot.

Right now, it’s all hypothetical. For that reason, Westbrook really is doing the only thing he can do at the moment.

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Jonathan is a freelance writer, filmmaker, and passionate fan of the NBA. In the past Jonathan has covered politics, entertainment, travel, and more. He is a proud contributor of Lakers Daily.